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Dear Indian Team,

Some questions and suggested answers are haunting me on the eve (3/7/2001) of your 2nd match against the Windies on 4/7/2001:

Q: What will you do if the Windies win the toss in the finals on 7/7/2001 and put you to bat first in the dew?

Suggested answer: We will turn the batting order upside down until the dew is dry. Will have Zaheer and Agarkar or Harbhajan to open the batting with the double mission of just hanging in there until the dew dries and clearing the fence whenever feasible.

Q: How does it feel to have proved people (including me) wrong about fielding first in the dew?

Suggested answer: Mother nature can be more powerful than the stress of a run chase, especially if the opposing teams are drunk with self-doubt and left stranded by the injured.

Q: Is the story in Outlook about steroids and cortisones correct?

Suggested answer (to skirt the issue): Is it correct for criminals to aspire for national leadership and for national leaders to get away with crime?

Dear Sourav (Ganguly),

Q: How does it feel to be praised by Steve Waugh for Captaincy immediately after the series during which he berated you from hair to toe-nail ?

Suggested answer: Don't take ole Steve to heart. Everyone of us has a fetish or mania that upsets others at times. He wants to be remembered as the Machiavelli of cricket - let us humour him. I have a cricketing brain that his mind games cannot affect. In fact my cricketing brain will inspire others to aspire for captaincy again.

Q: Was your 81 a flash in a dry pan or a sign of a return to form?

Suggested answer: This is a secret actually, but for your earnestness I will admit that I am overcoming my distractions and recklessness. I plan to bat as if every one else is going fail.

Dear Sachin,

Q: How does it feel have signed a contract for Rs.100 crores.

Suggested answer: Not too good. I have a fan following that is many times larger than Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan combined.

Q: How come you don't bowl more often even though you are a magician with the ball (barring those tangential wides that slip out inadvertently sometimes)?

Suggested answer: On the basis of top of mind recall I am a batsman. People realise I could be an option only when all other bowlers are failing in the death overs.

Q: Why has Gavaskar commented that Steve Waugh is a more effective batsman than Sachin?

Suggested answer: He is trying to prod me into being more effective. You may have realized before his saying so that what he has said is correct. India may have won on several occassions because of my batting (say when we bat first or when the opposition is weak). But I have not been able to lead the team out of a crisis (say when we are chasing a large score against a good team) in the way that Steve has. But I am going to change all that. Otherwise I will change my name. A day will come when people will list my name before Bradman's.

Dear Laxman,

Q: Why is Steve Waugh filling you with self-doubt during you overseas tour by saying 'Laxman is yet to prove himself outside India’?

Suggested answer: I thought you were smart enough to realize that this is a way he hopes to hit at me for bursting the bubble of his win-in-India dreams. I am just waiting for the opportunity to thrash them in Australia.

Dear Zaheer, Debu, Srinath & Agarkar,

Q. What do you do when people like Andy Flower & Matthew Hayden have settled in?

Suggested answer: Throw 6 yorkers at them. Our etiquette and physical fitness was stopping us from doing this. But if some people cannot stop sledging for example why should we stop yorking. Next time look out for our yorker overs. They will be next big thing in cricket.

Sourav Mitra

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